Having already struck chaos into the heart of Gotham City in The Dark Knight Rises (2012), and graced the desolate, unsaturated apocalyptic world of Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), Tom Hardy is an actor with a valid opinion on the current state of #action heroes in Hollywood.
Unfortunately for those hopeful of seeing Hardy return to the superhero realm, in an interview with The Sunday Times, the British actor revealed that he believes action heroes have become "boring," and slated the "homogenised sort of eight-pack, tanned, straight-teeth, physicalised, action-hero leading male."
And in many ways, it's hard to disagree with him. In the two leading superhero universes, the #MCU and the #DCEU, the vast majority of leading men share the same look, a look Hardy compared to the individuality of heroes from years gone by, comparing Harrison Ford's Indiana Jones with Chris Hemsworth's Thor. He said:
"Now you've got to look like you've just come off a vegan diet, gone to the gym, part Navy Seal, really clean-valued, clean-living, moralistic - and then you go out and save the world from an impending danger that isn't really dangerous at all. And it becomes not committed to any sense of the gubbins of reality: I don't recognise this man."
Henry Cavill's Superman. Ben Affleck's Batman. Chris Evans's Captain America. Chris Pratt's Star-Lord. Jason Momoa's Aquaman. Hugh Jackman's Wolverine. The list is endless, and there's no doubt, over recent years, the concept of action hero has geared toward an overbearing physicality, with A-list names escorted to the gym the second they sign a multi-film contract.
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Such characters often exist in a world of polarization, where good fights bad with no shades of grey in-between. As #TomHardy points out, the "impending danger" is usually faux-turmoil, with the joined-up, multibillion narratives not allowing space for characters to meet any genuine danger.
Action Heroes Lack Of Representation
But here's the most important part: Hardy doesn't relate to, or recognise, the way our heroes are portrayed, and this points to a problem within the action hero realm, and the industry in general. Not only are our heroes over-inflated, morally-perfect specimens, they are also severely lacking in diversity.
The MCU does boast a rich collection of characters, with female heroes such as Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow, or Elizabeth Olsen's Scarlett Witch, yet after 14 films, a female character still hasn't had the chance to lead a solo movie — and that won't happen until Captain Marvel is released in 2019.
However, the DCEU will release Wonder Woman this year, a film that can become a shining example of positive representation with Gal Gadot's leading role. While the introduction of Chadwick Boseman's Black Panther in last year's Captain America: Civil War will also lead to a solo movie focusing on the King of Wakanda (a fictional African nation) that draws from the very best of black actors and directors.
But there's still a long way to go. Despite the billions at the box office, superhero movies now have the opportunity to eventually spread the heroic duties to a wealth of people from all sorts of backgrounds. Such representation is important, as highlighted by the positive response to the diverse group of rebel fighters in Rogue One — a film that has now grossed $914.4m at the worldwide box office.
'Taboo' Is Tom Hardy's Cure For Boredom
For Hardy, his boredom at the homogonized nature of action heroes has led him to walk the walk of change, starring in the upcoming series, #Taboo. Instead of finding a suitable role, the A-lister — who starred as Batman's nemesis Bane in The Dark Knight Rises — created the character with his father, Chips Hardy.
His protagonist, James Keziah Delaney, is intentionally multi-faceted, pushing the limits to the kind of hero an audience can root for, with Hardy resorting to questionable tactics to make sure he gets results. Described as "insane, crazy and evil," it's safe to say Hardy will be anything but bored.
Taboo will premiere on FX on January 10, 2017.
Do you think there needs to be more variety with action heroes?
(Source: The Sunday Times)